Archive for September 15th, 2022

Truth Is Our Religion

September 15, 2022

We have crossed the technological Rubicon, perhaps 6,000 years ago, when Neolithics men erected thousands of Menhirs, man made giant stones, generally aligned sometimes by the thousands, the greatest concentrations of them found in what is now France’s Brittany. The largest menhir known was nearly twenty-three meters tall, weighted 350 tons, and was probably ferried in a gigantic raft across the Gulf of Morbihan (the orthogneiss it was made of came from 20 kilometers away across the sea). The greatest set of menhir alignement is in Carnac, over 4 kilometers, involving several rows of menhirs. It seemed to have had an astronomical significance, according to Alexander Thom, the UK founder of archeoastronomy.

When I was very small child my dad, an Algiers-born geologist, carried me on his shoulders through such a field of menhirs. But he sprained an ankle badly and I had to call my mom for rescue. 

Rescues and tragedies are everywhere. The “Right Whale” is now no more than 350 individuals, 100 of whom are females. There used to be hundreds of thousands.  They were called “Right Whales” because they were slow, and could be caught easily, differently from, say, Blue Rorquals who outsped boats before steamships. Also, when dead, those fatty mammals would float to the surface.

They have long been protected, but their population is now facing extinction… from human activity.

Seafood Watch, part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, provides scientific guidance to businesses, including some of the country’s major seafood buyers, about what they sell to customers. 

Seafood Watch put the American lobster, as well as some species of crab and fish, on its red list because of the effect fishing for lobsters has on North Atlantic right whales. Commercial fishers still use traps, to catch lobsters. Loaded with bait and lowered to the seafloor, they have one way tunnels to the kitchen. To recover the traps, they are connected to a buoy floating at the surface by a vertical line of rope.

Whales can easily become entangled in these ropes, which can prevent them from reaching the surface to breathe or from diving. Entangled whales may drag gear for years, causing deep lacerations.

And so it is, all around the biosphere: deep lacerations from human frolicking.

***  

Humanity has a huge, and increasing impact on the biosphere. With a population of 8 billion people, this impact is here to stay, and will only get worse as, say, everybody gets access to electricity (more than a billion people have no access to it).

There is no more wilderness: plastic and excess CO2 and other human generated poisons are everywhere. For example “wild” salmon eating “wild” fish ends up more contaminated with human made poisons than farm trout fed on genetically engineered soja.

The solutions out of these gigantic human impacts will be found along two main axes, and both have to be exploited: 1) we have to modify human behavior: say not eating lobsters until lobster procurement changes, because present lobster fishing kills into extermination Right Whales; or have Australians, Canadians and Americans reduce their CO2 emissions by 75%, to reach French or Swiss, and world average, levels of CO2 emissions… 4 tons of CO2 per person, per year… instead of the 20+ tons Australians are presently enjoying… and that doesn’t count all the coal they sell all over…

Before cutting CERN out, European authorities should cut out ski resorts which are huge consumers of power… to make artifical snow. Of course elected oligarchs will pontificate that millions live of, and from, and for, skiing on artificial snow. Let ski resorts use the renwable resources at their disposal! (Some do.)

We have to modify human behavior, and that means changing how we amuse ourselves.

2) we have to research, develop, deploy and use more advanced technology (here built smart, autonomous lobster traps). In any case we have to develop and progress. Shrinking back into old ways will only make the situation worse. Whereas what one should call colonial Anglo-Saxons, the Australians, Canadians and Americans want to keep on growing into Armageddon, the other excess is those (pseudo-) ecologists who argue for what they call de-growth (decroissance)… They are particularly festering and multiplying in France, with disastrous results…

We have to GROW mentally and energetically out of the problematic we are in. Cognitively, scientifically, technologically… Financing science, any science, is part of the solution. Present difficulties are from a lack of science, and, or lack of smarts (betting on the long tradition of Kremlin, or Chinese, dictatorships.) Developing science helps to develop smarts.

We have to progress towards a more scientific, more technological, more deliberate world. And debating the problems at hand, or over the horizon, is crucial, because only that way will the best solutions be found. Scientist have been derelict in evaluating the dangers we are in, and the solutions we urgently need to get out of our 84% dependency upon fossil fuels for primary energy (for example hydrogen and small batteries, instead of giant batteries and no hydrogen).

Paradoxically, the survival of the wilderness demands more, and smarter tech! Direct intervention to save entangled whales is one of these tech solutions. Recent science has revealed that whales tend to live very long lives, and that means their reproduction rate is much lower than once believed, thus any living adult whale is very hard to replace. And a source of knowledge: we don’t know what biology enables whales to live centuries. And what they talk about.

***

We don’t know what Neolithic Europeans, working three thousand years before the Celtic invasion, were thinking of, when they built those gigantic alignements of stones sculpted by men. Their motivations may have been similar to those of Easter Island Natives, 5,000 years later.

Why we want to go to the Moon and Mars is clear: those planets (yes, the Moon is a planet) are colonizable… Very likely: they have water.

Why were the Menhirs cut, shaped, transported, aligned and erected? They may have been early astronomical observatories of the movements of the Moon! 

Yes, science didn’t start a few centuries ago!

Truth Is Our Religion, says the Department of Defense of Ukraine…

Truth Is Has Long Been Our Religion

Truth is us.

Patrice Ayme 

The Universe shall be as we make it, proud, erect, domineering…

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